Turkey says three civilians killed in 'regime airstrike' on convoy in Idlib

Turkey says three civilians killed in 'regime airstrike' on convoy in Idlib
A suspected Syrian regime airstrike on a Turkish convoy in Idlib has been condemned by Ankara.
2 min read
19 August, 2019
Idlib has come under intense bombardment [Getty]
Turkey said a suspected Syrian regime airstrike on a Turkish  military convoy in Idlib province on Monday killed three civilians and warned agains further attacks on its troops.

The strike took place during a mission to resupply "Turkish Observation Point No.9" in Idlib province on Monday morning and to protect civilians fleeing intense regime and Russian bombing in Hama and southern Idlib.

"During the transit an air strike launched on our convoy at 08.55 am caused 3 civilians to lose their lives and left 12 civilians wounded, the defence ministry said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn this attack which contradicts the existing agreements, cooperation and dialogue with the Russian Federation. Without prejudice to our rights to self-defence, we expect the necessary measures to be taken to prevent recurrance of such incidents."

The defence ministry added that Russia - which has been bombing Idlib province - was notified prior to the troop movement.

Turkey has a number of observation posts in Idlib province some close to the frontlines in Idlib and northern Hama where heavy fighting is raging.

Unconfirmed reports on social media suggested Turkish F-16s were now flying over Idlib to protect the convoys.

The attack came as Turkish-allied Syrian rebel forces entered Idlib and Hama provinces on Monday, as the regime prepare to capture the key town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Video footage shared by activists on social media showed a line of tanks and armoured vehicles being attacked from the air near Maarat Numan in Idlib province.

"Turkish vehicles loaded with ammunition, weapons and material equipment passed through the Syrian-Turkish borders on Monday morning and they entered Saraqeb City in their way to Khan Sheikhoun to help the defeated terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra," Syrian state news said, using the previous name of the dominant faction in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [HTS] which rules most of Idlib. 

The small military convoy had reportedly entered the opposition province in northwest Syria on Monday heading for a Turkish observation post in Morek, but was halted following the bombing.

The Syrian regime have launched an offensive aimed at Khan Sheikhoun, where a key road between Aleppo and Damascus passes through.

Heavy regime and Russian bombing has emptied large parts of southern Idlib and Hama, with The White Helmetssaying that 124,000 civilians have fled their homes between 11 and 15 August.

More than 850,000 people have been uprooted since the regime began bombing Idlib in February. An offensive on the province was launched in April, although rebels had mostly managed to hold-off the regime assault.